I do not think there is one person in this class that has not eaten a stale chip. I know I will look in the cabinet, reach in for a snack, grab a chip bag down, and when I bite in the chip has a stale taste I’m wicked disappointed. The word stale has been in my vocabulary for as long as I can remember; I have just accepted it, but truly I have no idea why chips go stale in the air and not in the bag that they are in. There is air in the bag isn’t there?
Well the answer is: Nitrogen. The article I said pointed out that if you think of feeling a chip bag, you think of it feeling inflated, similarly to a balloon. This is because chip bags are actually not filled with air but nitrogen gas! The nitrogen gas is actually what keeps the chips from going stale. Oxygen cannot do the trick because it is very reactive and when it is combined with other molecules it can cause chemical reactions. Nitrogen is the opposite being very stable and unreactive. When a food reacts with oxygen it is said to oxidize quickly and these nitrogen atmospheres can prevent that from happening. Something that should be mentioned though is that air is not just oxygen but actually 78% nitrogen gas! So don’t worry opening those chips, nitrogen gas is all around us.